How long will it take for western motorcycle media to understand that pure enthusiasts are not the volume drivers of this industry? Many will think Kevin Ash’s recent review on HFL for the 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere is fair and balanced, but it’s just as possible the criticisms leveled against the new Yamaha are misdirected and narrow in scope.
I admit to having a pro-Japanese tilt, but the fact is that direct competition to the GS, Multistrada etc, is not the plan. The Super Tenere and Honda Crossrunner (660 Tenere, Honda Transalp, etc) are soft-user focused, for people who don’t trust or simply are unwilling to buy into European legacy brands. Just like the Honda CRV or Toyota RAV4 are not real trucks (compared to a Jeep or GMC or Land Rover), they are simple to digest, “safe” choice for the middle-of-the-road crowd.
Yes, BMW, KTM and Ducati all make safe, reliable motorcycles, but that is not the point to these people. Your typical Super Tenere customer will be an ex-R1, Fireblade, GSX-R customer who has owned ten Japanese bikes, and has long ago “bought in” to the myths surrounding their superiority, and European motorcycle’s inferiority.
Most of these people do not comment in online magazines, participate in customer clinics or write into motorcycle media, but quietly go on buying and riding motorcycles.
And that is a lot of people.
As for the cruiser analogy, it is misplaced. Japanese cruisers may not be “the real thing” for hard core users, but Yamaha’s Star line has been consistently a huge seller in the US market, second only to Harley with a quarter of market share, and hefty profit margins. BMW tried to get into that lucrative market with the 1200C and failed miserably. Being “second best” or “a mere copy” has served the company very well for thirty years, and created a legitimate market for modern, liquid-cooled and otherwise sporty cruisers. So much so that Victory has done more emulating of the Yamaha formula than that of H-D. I think BMW could stand to learn a thing or two from Yamaha about new market penetration.